As a leading managed IT services provider here in London, when we ask whether your small business is in need of digital transformation, what do we mean? Let’s look at a few examples of digital transformation in action.

Kodak invented digital photography way back in 1975 and had built the first digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera by 1989, but the company refused to support these innovations. Kodak, then probably the world’s biggest and best known photographic brand, was effectively put out of business in 2012 by – you guessed it – digital photography.

Xerox, at their Palo Alto Research Center, built the first ‘windows’ computer. However, they let a 24-year-old Steve Jobs of tech upstart Apple Computer (then a small business) get a look at it. Apple is today one of the world’s most valuable brands, worth over $300 billion.

Take another once small business example – Netflix. Originally a mail order service disrupting the bricks-and-mortar video rental businesses, like Blockbuster, before digital innovations made wide-scale video streaming possible. Now Netflix is a household name and Blockbuster is just another brand on a long list of High Street memories.

These are just three examples of digital transformation changing businesses and whole sectors beyond recognition; taking advantage of available and new technologies to revolutionise how enterprises and industries work.

So is your small business is in need of digital transformation?

We’ve put together this post to help you consider whether your small business is in need of digital transformation by highlighting the three sure signs that your business is.

In this post we’ve included:

Digital transformation defined

As an expert and experienced managed service provider in IT we define digital transformation as the integration of digital technology into all areas of your business, bringing together your people, processes and technologies to fundamentally change how you operate to create a more cost effective, efficient enterprise that delivers better value and experiences to customers. It’s also a cultural change that requires organisations to continually challenge the status quo and experiment.

Now we’re firmly entrenched in the digital age, new technologies from the Internet, mobile communications and new telephony to AI, automation and big data have changed the rules of doing business. Many London-based start-ups and small to medium-sized businesses are creating clever, effective and disruptive ways to leverage technology for their competitive advantage and their customers’ benefit.

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The 3 signs that your business is in need of digital transformation?

Sign 1. You only call your IT department or IT services provider when something goes wrong

If your small to medium-sized business has an ‘IT person,’ let alone an ‘IT department,’ you already have an advantage over many other organisations of your size. It’s more likely you outsource your IT to a managed services provider in London.

But whatever your situation, we bet you have a ‘reactive’ relationship with them, with a lot of waiting involved. Your IT people wait for an issue to arise and you wait for them to solve it.

If you are in this situation, you’re missing an opportunity to turn your IT team into a proactive resource, one that’s intimately involved and invested in your organisation and operation.

Nowadays IT is increasingly at the centre of your business, touching every part of what you do, from communications, planning meetings and making presentations to keeping your accounts and production schedule in order.

Why not let your IT people observe and suggest ways that IT can streamline, smooth and speed up your workflows and processes, especially tasks you undertake manually. They can make what you do more cost and time effective.

What’s more, not only can they help you automate routines, they can help you to integrate them. For example, with the implementation of a customer relationship management (CRM) system you could be entering a customer’s details and records once, which can then feed into everything from procurement and production to billing.

So if you don’t have a managed IT services support partner here in London, now – more than ever – is the time to find one.

Sign 2. You use a lot of spreadsheets

Businesses of all sizes and sectors are guilty of falling into line with two trains of thought that, ultimately, hold them back in their development. The first is ‘If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’ and the second is ‘We’ve always done it this way.’

Neither is a strong enough argument for sticking with a process or workflow that’s inefficient or requires a lot of hands-on effort.

Take the use of spreadsheets. For keeping track of business operations and for certain tasks, like financial or statistical analysis, they’re still a simple, proven and powerful tool for the job. But in the last 10 years, we’ve developed a lot of other tools to solve problems that used to require heavily customised spreadsheets.

So, for example, if you have a content production and publishing spreadsheet, why not replace it with a project management tool like Asana or BaseCamp?

If you have a spreadsheet to keep track of prospects, customers, suppliers or vendors, look at the CRM solution we’ve mentioned above and create data you can access, analyse, action and feed into other automated processes.

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Sign 3. You spend a lot of time reading and sending e-mails

E-mail. Where would be without it? But when you’ve got an overflowing inbox it’s easy to see it as a stressful curse rather than the business blessing it can be.

E-mail is a great tool that makes it easy to coordinate and share information across teams but sorting out the signal from the noise can be tricky. Reducing clutter in email communications is difficult but can be done.

The first things to consider are who are you spending most time communicating with, why and when.

As we said above, a good project management suite can consolidate information and take it out of your inbox. Production schedules, specific tasks, progress reports and who’s in charge of what are all readily available and intuitive in a PM system.

Then consider a collaboration tool, like Slack, to stop project iteration feedback or collaboration turning into an endless chain of dozens, if not hundreds, of e-mails. Slack can better organise those conversations for you and create room for more back-and-forth. There are also several bots that have been developed for the platform to automate scheduling.

Last but far from least, consider a marketing automation system for communications with your customers. Taking the time to build and curate your e-mail list is important, but it’s next to useless if you don’t know how to learn from, and leverage, it. An e-mail marketing platform can enable you to set up and automate sequences of communication or set triggers for things like an abandoned cart or a second site visit to send prospects the right offer at the right time.

The actions you can take right now

Digital transformation gives you the opportunity to reimagine your business, especially how you engage and delight your customers.

Digital transformation is already underway but the good news is that it’s not proceeding at the same pace everywhere, so there’s opportunity for the proactive business. According to the McKinsey Global Institute‘s 2016 Industry Digitisation Index, most of Europe is currently operating at 12% of its digital potential, with the UK operating at 17% and the United States at 18%.

Put simply, building a successful 21st-century business on stickies and handwritten ledgers isn’t going to work. So get your managed IT services provider more involved in your business processes and less putting out fires, look for opportunities to automate and simplify workflows and revolutionise your business communications to stop being overwhelmed with email. And if you don’t have a managed IT services provider partner here in London, now’s the time to get one

In fact, why not talk about your digital transformation with the expert, experienced and award-winning team here at Totality Services? We’ve earned Five Star customer service ratings from TrustPilot, Feefo and Google to become the go to IT support team for London. Simply call us for a confidential, no obligation chat about your requirements.

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